Dear Johnny Deere Brings Fred Eaglesmith’s Music to Gananoque

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by Lorraine Payette, written September 30, 2015

“The kind of bar where there’s only two types of music on the jukebox – one is country, the other is western…”
– McAllister, Dear Johnny Deere

Don’t make a mistake about it – this is definitely a musical, but there’s nothing light, fluffy or comedic going on here. A Juno Award winner, Dear Johnny Deere is serious drama, carefully crafted around the music of Fred Eaglesmith, a play that takes a hard look at love, the land and surviving the trials of running a small family farm in Canada.

Ken Cameron had wanted to write something around Eaglesmith’s work, and found himself up against a major challenge. He sat down and listened, then sorted and listened again before finally finding the thread he was looking for.<!–more– to read more>

“Because Ken researched Fred Eaglesmith’s songbook extensively, he was able to draw the characters and plotline from the many stories embedded within Fred’s songs,” said The Talent House in their summary and review. “The result is a musical where Fred’s hit songs seem tailor-made to the musical, not the other way around.”

The story is a tale of love and loss, of heartache and despair, the fear of losing a marriage and of losing the land that has been there ever since he can remember. It is a close look at the experience of so many farmers – the fear of losing the one you love to someone more exciting, rumours of government bringing a highway through to destroy the town, the temptation of someone with big money who could buy you out and give you a fresh start, crops dying in the field due to unpredictable weather, never, ever knowing whether you’ll wake up to a day of peace or one of turmoil. Tragedy and triumph, underscored with that constant, driving beat and the music that tells the tale so well.

With the music, you have to have musicians who are up to the task. Six have been brought together to make this story work, and make it work they do. From the four who play the principal characters as well as several musical instruments, to those who fill in the remainder of the sound so necessary to flesh it all out, they bring the story to life. The Playhouse has found these six in Greg Gale (Johnny), Shannon Currie (Caroline), Bruce Horak (Mike, Hendrick, the Collector), Jeff Culbert (McAllister), Capucine Onn (the fiddler) and music director David Archibald. Whether vocals or instrumentals, they work together as a team, bringing every song vibrantly to life and making you forget, every now and then, that this is a musical and not a glimpse into the hard but determined life of a small town Canadian farmer.

Going from “White Trash” to “I Wanna Buy Your Truck” to “Time to Get a Gun”, the music is strong and smart, a toe tapping, head jiving experience that keeps you humming along as you leave the theatre and return to your regular life. And maybe, just maybe, that regular life doesn’t seem so bad by comparison, or maybe it all feels just a little bit too familiar. Either way, you leave the theatre ready to go back once more to see and hear it all again.

Dear Johnny Deere runs from September 25 – October 18, 2014, at the Springer Theatre, 690 Charles Street South in Gananoque, Ontario. Running time for the play is 2 hours including intermission. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 pm, with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm (starting the Wednesday after opening night). Deck chats are Wednesdays at 1:30 pm and Thursdays at 7:00. Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors age 65+, $16 for students, with a half price preview on July 24. HST is applicable to all ticket prices. Group tickets are available at $26 – $28 each. This show is recommended for people of all ages, but may not appeal to younger children. For more information, please go to or contact the box office at 613-382-7020.


Summer “Closer Than Ever” at Thousand Islands Playhouse

by Lorraine Payette, written May 25

(Gananoque, ON) “Well what do you know?
In front of me now is an open door…
One day the doors are locked and you’re sick of them.
Next day they’re yours and you have your pick of them.
Finding the proper key that’s the trick of them.
Every where another door…”
– “Doors”, Closer Than Ever, Richard Maltby, David Shire and Steven Scott Smith

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Show Shots by Jay Kopinski for TIP

The Thousand Islands Playhouse (TIP) started the 2015 season in high gear as “Closer Than Ever” exploded onto the stage on May 15.

“I’m thrilled to present this captivating musical to open our 2015 season,” said Ashlie Corcoran, artistic director for TIP. – to read more>

“Stan Rogers – A Matter of Heart” Coming to Rib Fest

Canada Day celebrations - Gananoque - July 1, 2010 006croparesizecopyright

by Lorraine Payette, written June 23, 2014

(Gananoque, ON) Stan fans, get ready for a chance to sing along to your favourites as the D-Tones and guests bring “Stan Rogers – A Matter of Heart” to the festival from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. on June 30. Admission is free, and the music exhilarating.

“Just after (Rogers) died in an airplane fire, Vince Metcalfe and I got hooked on the idea of (a tribute to him), taking his work to a wider audience in a theatre setting,” said Diane Stapley. – to read more>

Hot Times Coming with Summer Solstice: Pride in the 1,000 Islands

by Lorraine Payette, written June 12, 2014

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(Gananoque, ON) Get your pride shined up and prepare for the hottest summer solstice around as Gananoque rolls out its best for the third annual Summer Solstice: Pride in the 1,000 Islands Festival.

“This festival is about celebrating diversity in one of the most naturally diverse regions in the world,” said Kathrine Christensen, executive director of the 1,000 Islands Accommodation Partners. “The flavour of the weekend is fun, meant to showcase the islands, water, theatre, merchants, and diversity in a welcoming community. We try to have (everyone) gather to celebrate summer solstice while having our visitors experience the zest for life that you can only find in the 1,000 Islands.” – to read more>

Final Push to Make “For the Love of the Game” Number 1

Jon Abrans

Jon Abrans

by Lorraine Payette, written December 28, 2013

Hard as it may be to believe, Jon Abrams is putting Gananoque on the map in ways he never imagined. Having made the top ten with his song, “For the Love of the Game”, he now needs all of our votes to finish getting it to number one.

“(The final) voting ends Dec 30 at 11:59 pm, so we need all the PLAYS and VOTES and SHARES we can stick handle before the buzzer goes to end period 3,” says Nancy Abrams, Jon’s mother. “It’s been a terrific team effort throughout…. Thank you everyone for your great support.” – to read more>

Jon Abrams Still Shooting for the Top

Jon Abrams

Jon Abrams

by Lorraine Payette, written December 15, 2013

There’s still time to get Gananoque native Jon Abrams and his song, “For the Love of the Game”, into the top ten, but we have to hurry.

“He’s made it into the top 50,” said Nancy Abrams, Jon’s mother. “It would be so wonderful if he could go all the way.” – to read more>

Christmas Carolling Comes to Downtown Gananoque

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By Lorraine Payette, written December 12, 2013

It is the season of the spirit
The message if we hear it
Is ‘Make it last all year’

– Paul Williams, “It Feels Like Christmas”

(Gananoque, ON) Gananoque will be ringing with joyous voices raised in song over the next 12 days as the Holiday Harmonizers hit the main street and sing popular carols new and old. A product of Diane Stapley and the BIA, this free music is there to bring joy and happiness to all those willing to listen and share in the message. – to read more>

Jon Abrams Hockey Song “For the Love of the Game” Needs Your Votes

Jon Abrams, formerly of Gananoque, singer/songwriter – “The Hockey Song:  For the Love of the Game”.  (Submitted photo)

Jon Abrams, formerly of Gananoque, singer/songwriter – “The Hockey Song: For the Love of the Game”. (Submitted photo)

by Lorraine Payette, written November 25, 2013

For the love of the game, playing on a backyard pond
For the love of the game, rockin’ when we sing this song
For the love of the game, feeling that home town pride
For the love of the game, one timer and the crowd goes wild
For the love of the game
– Jon Abrams, “For the Love of the Game”

A son of Gananoque is on his way to the top and he’s hoping for help from everyone in the region.

When a lot of hockey fans were feeling down in the dumps due to the NHL lockout last year, Jon Abrams came to the rescue just in time for the holidays. – to read more>

A Little Jazz Mass to Be Performed at Christ Church

Melodia Monday at Christ Church in Gananoque

Melodia Monday at Christ Church in Gananoque

by Lorraine Payette, written October 24, 2013

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
– Psalm 100 King James Version

(GANANOQUE, ONTARIO) On Sunday, October 27, Christ Church (Anglican) in Gananoque is going to come alive with music as it hosts a performance of “A Little Jazz Mass”, part of yet separate from Jammin’ in the Islands. – to read more>

Fifth Jammin’ In the 1,000 Islands Will Be Smokin’

Melodia Monday gets down to business as they practice at Christ Church

Melodia Monday gets down to business as they practice at Christ Church

by Lorraine Payette, written October 21, 2013

(GANANOQUE, ONTARIO) Name your music, and Gananoque will see to it that you can have it live on the weekend of October 25-27. Jammin’ In The 1,000 Islands is back for its fifth sizzling year, bringing all your favourites from throughout the area.

Every possible venue throughout the town will be filled with live music, from restaurants to storefronts, to fabulous feature cabaret performances at the Firehall Theatre. – to read more>